Saving Lives Through Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

By Vinson DiSanto

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), a series of clinical protocols and interventions, is employed in life-threatening medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest or stroke. Survival rates of persons experiencing cardiac arrest are improved if bystanders and paramedics are trained in basic and advanced cardiac life support. Physicians and other medical personnel in emergency settings are routinely trained in ACLS, but a study published by the National Institutes of Health found that having non-emergency hospital physicians trained in ACLS also improves the chances for positive patient outcomes.

The American Heart Association developed the latest guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiovascular care in 2010. ACLS includes interventions to prevent and treat cardiac arrest, and to improve outcomes of patients who attain return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cardiac arrest. ACLS interventions directed at preventing cardiac arrest include ventilation support, airway management, and treatment of tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias. ACLS interventions treat cardiac arrest by building on the basic life support (BLS) foundation of immediate recognition and activation of the emergency response system, early CPR, and rapid defibrillation. When patients experience ROSC, medical professions employ integrated post–cardiac arrest care to improve survival and neurologic outcomes.

ACLS incorporates the latest technologies and medical practices that are known to increase survival outcomes for patients in cardiac emergencies. ACLS practices will continue to evolve as resuscitation research and clinical translation increase knowledge among clinicians.

About the author: An osteopathic physician, Vinson DiSanto holds a current certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Two years after graduating from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. DiSanto began studies in alternative medicine, and is now a Doctor of Acupuncture, a Doctor of Sonopuncture Therapy, a Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine, a Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine, and a Doctor of Laser Therapy.